Why Didn’t I Think of That?

2024 Winners



What is IP?



“Why Didn’t I Think of That?” is a virtual invention competition for students. Students qualify if they have an original invention that they created at age 18 or younger and the invention has received intellectual property protection. Students who qualify will have the chance to work with an industry professional to learn how to advance their invention. They will also receive recognition in a public communications campaign across IPOEF and Invention Convention audiences, and beyond.

Vote for your favorite invention between January 17 and February 14!

Overview Image

Why Didn’t I Think of That? 

Whether you have a small business or you’re just getting started, this invention competition is for you! Enter to win an opportunity to work one on one with industry professionals to discuss business and IP strategy and the best path to success for your invention.


Meet the Coaches

Enter Today!





  • A Review Board* will process and evaluate submissions
  • Finalists will submit a pitch video to promote their invention
  • IPOEF will share finalists videos for public vote  between Jan. 17 and Feb. 14
  • Videos can be shared with friends, family, and colleagues
  • The IPO Education Foundation Board of Directors and your vote will determine the winners
  • Winners will be announced publicly

*The Review Board includes executives from companies and law firms with expertise in intellectual property, business strategy, and innovation. 


  • The invention must be of the individual’s own making
  • Inventors must have intellectual property protection
  • IP rights were acquired when the student was under the age of 18


  • Business and IP coaching from industry professionals
  • Expense paid trip to Washington, DC to attend and be featured at the Foundation annual Awards Celebration
  • Recognition across IPOEF which reaches thousands of IP professionals, innovators, and educators
  • Recognition in press releases, news outlets, and more!

Vote Now!

9 inventions have been selected by the Review Board. Vote for your favorite now!

What is IP?

There are four types of Intellectual Property (or IP): patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Did you know that many soda companies keep their recipes private? This is considered a trade secret! What about the cell phone you use every day? It has hundreds of patented inventions inside of it to make the phone function the way it does. Something is eligible for a patent if it is a new, useful, and non obvious invention. This could mean anything from a water balloon launcher to a rocket ship!

Learn More

Special Thank You to the 2023 Program Sponsors